Sheep genetic resources in Bulgaria with focus on breeds with coloured wool

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Doytcho Dimov
Atanas Vuchkov


This review describes sheep genetic resources in Bulgaria with coloured wool and evaluates the country’s potential for coloured wool production. In 2018, Bulgaria counted 125,422 animals belonging to 18 native sheep breeds, six of which are in danger of extinction. Native sheep breeds in Bulgaria can be divided into three groups depending on the fleece colour of the animals: i) sheep breeds with fully pigmented fleece in all animals; ii) sheep breeds with animals with fully pigmented fleece or fully white fleece; iii) sheep breeds with spotted coloured fleece. Colouration in populations of the native Bulgarian sheep breeds can be explained by the phenotypic expression of several alleles of coat colour genes: ExtensionD, Agoutia and Pigmented headT , while white colour is due to the presence of the dominant Agoutiwtallele.
Based on the relative share of the animals with coloured wool, the country’s potential for annual coloured wool production from native breeds was estimated at a minimum of 133,791 kg of unwashed wool. Recent tendencies in lifestyle changes of the Bulgarian people are gradually leading to increased interest in naturally coloured wool products, which may benefit the conservation of endangered native breeds by promoting relevant breeding programmes.

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Dimov, D. and Vuchkov, A. (2021) “Sheep genetic resources in Bulgaria with focus on breeds with coloured wool”, Genetic Resources, 2(3), pp. 11-24. doi: 10.46265/genresj.HXSV9592.

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